Residential solar enables homeowners to save money on their electricity bills and invest in their local renewable energy economy. At left: 3.2 kW system in the Town of Hempstead, Long Island. Photo Credit: GRACE.
Commercial solar gives businesses, schools, churches, public buildings and other organizations a long-term hedge against volatile power pricing and an opportunity to demonstrate environmental leadership. At right: 80 kW system in Brooklyn. Photo Credit: Solaresystems. 25 kW system in Pleasantville. Photo Credit: New York Interfaith Power & Light.
Utility-scale solar delivers safe, reliable electricity during peak hours when New York’s power grid needs it most. Below: 3.2 MW in Linden, New Jersey, near Newark Airport. Photo Credit: PSE&G.
Q: What is a solar job?
A: Solar creates more jobs per megawatt-hour than any other energy technology. These are high quality jobs across a broad range of education requirements, salary levels and fields. The majority (approximately 75%) are related to system development and installation, representing local jobs that are virtually non-outsourceable. Fields include engineering, construction, sales, marketing, finance and legal services. The remaining 25% is related to manufacturing. While the solar industry has a global manufacturing base, proximity to market is one significant factor in siting new manufacturing operations. The manufacturing opportunity goes far beyond panel making. If successful in building a strong local solar market, New York’s existing manufacturing base can be retooled to produce PV system components, from silicon to glass, from racking systems to wiring.
Establishing a robust and long-term solar market is critical to attracting the full spectrum of solar jobs to New York.
Q: Is solar expensive?
A: No. Solar electricity already competes with fossil-fuel power prices in many markets across the country, and those solar prices continue to drop. National Lab analysis shows that the average pre-incentive price of installed PV in the U.S. decreased 30% from 1998 – 2009, a trend that can be largely attributed to the success of market-building state policies. The same report indicated that in the first part of 2010 alone, PV prices in the two largest markets – California and New Jersey – dropped an impressive 14%-16% over the previous year.2
New York has already started to reap the benefits of solar’s lower price point. NYSERDA’s competitive solicitation to award American Recovery & Reinvestment Act funds delivered 6 MW of new PV capacity at an incentive of only $1.60/watt.3 With global market trends and a robust local industry, New York could expect further significant cost reductions.
There has never been a better time for New York State to invest in its solar economy.